Markets in Everything, Developing Country Edition

1.  This woman is so earnest & excited about her work that it feels mean to even criticize it.  In her blog post, she says that she “fell in love with everything that represented traditional Mexicana”  and has decided to decorate her son’s room in such a style.  I’ll just say that she and I have very different opinions about what represents traditional Mexican folk art. Here’s one of her examples:
dollsdemexico4
2.  For the person in your life that has everything, here’s a Christmas idea:  a religious Barbie or Ken doll.  They probably won’t be cheap, because they are currently part of an art exhibit called “Barbie, The Plastic Religion.”  Here’s one of my favorites of Barbie made up as the Virgin de Guadalupe.
barbie_virgen de guadalupe
3. “Who wants to be President?” board game launched in Nigeria.  Here is a fun description:“The players go through all the processes aspiring political leaders go through with the ultimate aim of winning “elections.” The steps include seeking party nominations, campaigning in the 36 states of Nigeria, cajoling for votes, negotiating for the best deals, strategizing, spying on opponents, disrupting the plans of the opposition, countering their moves and so on.

The game ends when one of the players presents the card calling for “Instant Elections” or one of the players reaches the end. Only players who have won votes in 21 states would be eligible to have his “votes” counted. The player with the most “votes” win and is declared president.”

Que Pedazo!

People, the Cuban economic liberalization is really starting to bear fruit. Big news from Havana of two new men’s fragrances for the export market: Hugo and Ernesto!

 

As always, I am not making this up.

 

En una convención en La Habana, la empresa cubana Labiofam, que produce medicinas homeopáticas y productos de limpieza, ha lanzado dos nuevas aguas de colonia para hombres: ‘Hugo’, por el difunto líder de la revolución bolivariana en Venezuela, y ‘Ernesto’ en homenaje al Comandante de la revolución cubana, Ernesto Guevara.

“Estos nombres salieron de una encuesta que se realizó en una exposición donde llevamos las fragancias con vistas a que el público decidiera como podían ligarlo a nombres de personalidades internacionales” explica a BBC Mundo Mario Valdés, director del grupo de investigación y desarrollo en Labiofam que diseñó los perfumes.

 

OK, so it seems that Labiofam, a maker of cleaning products, has relabeled and rebottled some of their product for the export market.

And the names were picked by polling the publics’ preferences on international personalities.

Either the control of the media by the Cuban government is stunningly good, or maybe that poll wasn’t so, shall we say, open?

If Seventh Generation polled Americans, could you see them coming up with Warren Harding and Bartolomeo Vanzetti as the winners?

No word yet what the estates of Hugo Chavez, Che Guevara, or Hugo Boss plan to do about this. But I do expect that Knuckles Maduro will order a case or two.

 

 

you can’t print babies, but you ought to divide by them

Tyler’s macro experts, Hugh and Scott don’t seem to understand what economic growth is for, or how to measure it.

People, a country with a zero percent change in its overall GDP combined with a shrinking population is actually generating higher living standards for its citizens.

In other words, for most economic purposes, it’s per-capita growth that we should be measuring.

Sure, the raw size of the economy might be a problem for debt ratios and total war, but I’d rather live in an economy with zero change in GDP and a population growth rate of -1% than an economy with a1% growth rate in GDP and a population growth rate of 2%.

Living standards are rising in the first case and falling in the second case.

This is why the worry about, “the Chinese economy may be bigger than the US economy” makes no sense from an economics standpoint. China is still a relatively poor country in terms of income per capita or median income.

Sure, Japan could do a lot of things better. It could be more open to women in the workforce (I think this may be starting to happen). It could be more open to trade and investment.

But it is very very far from being an economic disaster.

That’s Dr. Dis-Grace to you peons

The first lady of Zimbabwe, Grace Mugabe, enrolled in a doctoral program in Sociology at the University of Zimbabwe back in July.

 

Now word comes that, two months later, She has earned her PhD!

 

“According to the state owned Herald Newspaper, her thesis was on the changing social structure and functions of the family which involved a study in a children’s home.”

 

She was hooded by the Chancellor of the University. Perhaps you’ve heard of him, his name is Bobby Mugabe!

 

Greatness just runs in some families.

 

Hat tip to SS

 

The difficulty of bureaucratic reform, India edition

I just found an interesting NBER working paper (gated) looking at the frustrations of trying to reform the Indian bureaucracy.  The paper is titled “Deal with the Devil: The Successes and Limitations of Bureaucratic Reform in India” and is written by Iqbal Dhaliwal and Rema Hanna.

It reinforces the argument that technology is no panacea in these types of reform. There seems to be no easy answers or shortcuts to bringing about real reform. Here is a shortened version of their abstract:

Employing a technological solution to monitor the attendance of public-sector health care workers in India resulted in a 15 percent increase in the attendance of the medical staff. Despite initiating the reform on their own, there was a low demand among all levels of government–state officials, local level bureaucrats, and locally-elected bodies—to use the better quality attendance data to enforce the government’s human resource policies due to a fear of generating discord among the staff. These fears were not entirely unfounded: staff at the treatment health centers expressed greater dissatisfaction at their jobs and it was also harder to hire new nurses, lab technicians and pharmacists at the treatment health centers after the intervention. Thus, this illustrates the implicit deal that governments make on non-monetary dimensions—truancy, allowance of private practices—to retain staff at rural outposts in the face of limited budgets and staff shortages.

A new measure of poverty, Bill Gates edition

gates_wealth

 

The World Bank classifies countries around the world into income groupings (middle class, upper middle class), understandably using arbitrary and subjective cut-off points. I’d like to propose using Bill Gates’ wealth as a new cut-off point.  The above map, courtesy of @Amazing_Maps, depicts in red all of the countries that have GDPs lower than Gates’s wealth.

I think reasonable people can agree that if a country’s total income is outweighed by the wealth of a single (albeit incredibly rich) individual, than that country’s economy has some room for improvement!

Panama Canal Envy

Apparently the Nicaraguans aren’t the only ones envious of the Panama Canal.  The Egyptian government, to promote the recent announcement of a 45 mile extension to the Suez Canal, commissioned new stamps portraying the canal in all its glory.  Just one problem with the plan.  The stamp designers have either never seen the Suez Canal or just like the Panama Canal better.  Take a look:

stamp_3037543b

The Telegraph has a summary of the embarrassing blunder, with this awesome line:

“A government official said that the postal service was aware of the mix up and was trying to rectify the situation.”  Makes me wonder what they are doing to rectify the situation.” Looking for some more accurate photos?